What is a Diversity/Inclusion Director, and What Does It Mean for Work Comp?

Cindy Ferraino

Sarasota, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) – When the American Disabilities Act (ADA) was created in 1990, it was designed to protect the rights of individuals regardless of their abilities. While the ADA has served as the springboard for creating an inclusive environment for all individuals especially in the workplace, there has been a movement to mix diversity and inclusion to support the needs of all employees.

In the United States, there are many different facets that describe working individuals. From race, gender, and sexual orientation, to religious and political differences, there is a strong presence of diversity in the workplace. It has been projected that diversity in the workplace will increase steadily by the year 2050, according to Business Insurance.

Many companies are keeping on top of this by hiring diversity and inclusion directors or managers. These directors ideally integrate an inclusive structure into the work environment as well as implement programs to facilitate a diverse workforce for the company.

As diversity and inclusion continue to be buzzwords throughout the corporate hive, how does workers’ compensation fall into it? It has been reported that work comp is still not meeting the demands of a diverse workplace. Some involved in the industry have stepped up to the challenge to address this.

Risk and claims management providers have increased their awareness of diversity and inclusion by employing individuals who come from different backgrounds.

“Diversity and inclusion (are) an integral part of workers’ compensation,” said Danielle Lisenbey, President and CEO of Broadspire Services Inc. Broadspire Services Inc., part of the Crawford Company, is a global risk and claims management services firm. Broadspire has created a “not one size fits all approach” for claims management.

Broadspire has a team of individuals that aim to create a workers’ compensation program that is diverse and inclusive for each client.

“Every client has different needs. For example, one client may need a risk manager who is fluent in a different language or another client may need a claims specialist that specializes in a certain industry,” Lisenbey said.

Human resources professionals have been instrumental in developing practices that integrate diversity and inclusion for work comp. “Diversity and inclusion is important, “ Chantal Mariotti told WorkersCompensation.com. She is the Principal/Founder of Executive HR Consulting Group in Burbank, CA. Her group provides human resources consulting for clients to effectively manage employment issues. She draws on her working experience in the hospitality industry to help clients address work comp-related issues.

“With the hospitality industry, there is a diverse employee population,” Mariotti said.

Since these jobs are extremely labor intensive, on-the job injuries can occur more frequently as well the challenge to provide the care and support for these employees. Often, the challenge becomes more difficult due to language barriers as well as cultural and ethnic differences.

“We need to be sensitive and understanding in order to help meet the needs of a diverse workforce,” she said.

For employers, Mariotti said she believes the main goal is to have the employee get back to work without losing a lot of time, and then reducing high premium costs. However, that may not often be the case.

In the event that the employer can’t return to work, Mariotti offers a solution to an employer.

“Employers need to make reasonable accommodations so employees can return back to work,” she added. One example, she mentioned, is to train the employee to work at a different position upon their return.